It is currently rainy season in Japan. When I lived in Sendai it rained a lot! However, it’s only been raining a little bit and sometimes it rains during the night making it cool in the morning. This week has been a highly enjoyable one. I attended my first Japanese class for foreigners in MY town and to my surprise, the first class was a special calligraphy event. I was asked to choose a character and my two teachers patiently helped me with the various strokes to make this character.

Here I am with my calligraphy art – this is “AI” which means LOVE.

Here is the teacher’s calligraphy (below). Isn’t it gorgeous?? Watching her do it was like magic! I think I didn’t do too terribly bad since it was only my second try at calligraphy ever! I think the teachers got a kick out of me because I seemed to have so much fun doing it. The rest of my table worked so seriously but I was laughing the whole time. The funniest part was my first attempt at this character – it was hideous. Anyway, all in all, it was great to be with Japanese and foreign people who live in my town and learn more about Japanese culture.

Here I am with the two sweet ladies who helped me.

The teachers so patiently helped us and stood behind us, guiding our hands as we tried to do the strokes.

At the end, we all had to stand up and present our calligrpahy to the rest of the class.

As I’ve written, I am also taking cooking lessons with Mrs. Terashima. This has been so fun and a highlight of my week. This week we made one of my all-time favorite meals, “Nikujyaga,” which always make me think of “Mick Jagger” when I hear it. I attempted to make it myself last night, and it turned out fairly well. I also made red miso soup with teeny-tiny mushrooms for the first time and it was so good that I ate four bowls! Today, it was so nice to open my “o-bento” (Japanese lunchbox) and show off my nikujyaga to my classmates today.

Nikujyaga, Daikon (radish) salad, stir-fried lotus root

Just nikujyaga, the meal I made last night

Overall, I continue to take great joy in being able to be back in Japan. I am learning (literally) dozens and dozens of Japanese words every week, and recently I’ve turned my focus to learning KANJI (the hardest of the three writing systems). You need to know about 2,000 kanji to read the newspaper. I feel like a kid, learning how to read, and it’s been a challenging, but fun process.

One last thing, I am finding all kinds of cool sushi here. I tried this one the other day – see the big fried shrimp wrapped in the sushi! It was as awesome-tasting as it looks!